Business, Finance & Economics

Macro chatter: G7 worries but not about Estonia

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A Estonian woman gives change to a customer in Euro in a supermarket in Tallinn on January 1, 2011. Estonia has become an oasis in the euro zone and is now the only euro zone country running a budget surplus.

Credit:

Raigo Pajula

Need to know:
The euro just can’t seem to catch a break this week. First George Soros gave it about three months to live, and now Standard & Poor’s is saying there’s a pretty good chance Greece will have to make a Grexit.

S&P is placing the odds of a Grexit in the coming months at one in three. S&P expects Greece leaving the euro zone could lead it to default on its debt.

Greek voters are set to have their say later this month. Greece is over the budget cuts the euro zone is demanding of it, and the euro zone has said it won’t budge. 

Want to know:
Here’s one reason you might not be able to retire as early as you’d hoped: Bankrate.com said the $1 million benchmark most people have had in mind as the ultimate retirement nest egg should really be about $3 million.

In the past, people were able to count on stock market returns of 12 percent to 15 percent a year, but markets in recent years have shaken that belief. Inflation also could begin to rear its ugly head at anytime, Bankrate said.

Here’s to hoping you can build that bigger nest egg before you turn 80.

Dull but important:
The G7 has scheduled an emergency meeting today to discuss the ongoing euro zone debt crisis.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the US, Canada, Japan, UK, Germany and France will hold a conference call in which they’re expected to increase the pressure on Europe, Reuters said. In G7 speak, conference call means there's a big problem brewing. 

Europe and much of the rest of the world is increasingly worried about Spain, which is mired in a banking crisis and asking for help, and Greece, which may have to leave the euro zone if it can’t cut its budget.

Just because:
Estonia has made a comeback
worthy of any sports metaphor you can think of.

The country joined the currency union 16 months ago and is now the only euro zone country running a budget surplus. It also is carrying less debt than Germany and (obviously) Greece.

Estonia’s economy grew 7.6 percent last year despite being one of the countries hardest hit by the global financial crisis just a few years ago. The Estonian economy shrank more between 2008 and 2009 than Greece has in the past five years. 

Strange but true:
The word Redalen may mean bed in Ikea speak, but in Thailand it’s more like getting to third base. And that's not a sports metaphor.

Ikea is working with Thai translators to adjust the names of some of its products because they’re bringing up too many sexual connotations, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Ikea opened its first store in Thailand last year and has since learned that some of its product names aren’t translating well enough to avoid strange looks from locals who many wonder why Ikea’s name for a plant pot sounds a lot like Thai slang for sex.